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Vietnam vets 'welcomed home' during ceremony

April 2, 2012

Members of the Goodfellow AFB Joint Services Color Guard post the colors at the beginning of the Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans service Friday. Special recognition was given to 1st Lt. Robert Elwin Griffith during the ceremony. (HERALD photo/Amanda Moreno)

Welcome Home … two simple words that have come to mean so much to Vietnam veterans.

Friday, The West Texas VA Health Care System hosted the second annual Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans program at Lone Star Aviation Hangar.

“Vietnam was full of tragedy, full of loss and full of sadness, just as any war was,” Daniel Marsh, director of West Texas VA Health Center said.

According to statistics provided that evening, more than 3 million soldiers served in the Southeast Asia theater of operations during the Vietnam conflict. Out of those soldiers, 2,338 went missing in action.

“We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to these soldiers,” Marsh said. “I am grateful we have so many veterans here with us tonight.”

He continued, “I encourage everyone to show their gratitude to those who made such a tremendous sacrifice. We owe them a debt of gratitude.”

During the ceremony, 1st Lt. Robert E. Griffith of the United States Army was honored, as were all soldiers who never made it home. A missing man ceremony was performed by the Goodfellow Joint Services Color Guard and narrated by U.S. Marine Corps veteran David Leonard.

Don Boling, a Marine veteran who served in Vietnam, told the story of Griffith, who lost his life in combat March 3, 1969.

“Bobby gave his life while saving others, as stated in a poem by his brother: 'My brother died while saving lives of men he loved and led.' Those who survived and their families will never forget their sacrifice. I know the kind of man that Bobby was and I know this program is dedicated to him, but I also wouldn't want him mad at me and I know he would want me to remember his men as well,” Boling said.

Griffith was one of 21 men who lost their lives in the Alpha 3/8th Infantry. After Boling shared Griffith's story, the ceremony concluded with the “Armed Forces Medley” and the playing of “Taps” by U.S. Army Army veteran Mike Tarpley.

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